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The truth behind Pilane’s constitution uproar

The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president, Advocate Sidney Pilane is fighting a bitter war to defeat his colleagues, Advocate Duma Boko of Botswana National Front (BNF) and Dumelang Saleshando of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in the battle for the soul of the UDC.

The coalition party, which also comprise of the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) is at war with itself, the centre of dispute being accumulation of power by the involved leaders. In a new twist of events, BCP and BNF found themselves fighting against the axis of Pilane’s BMD as well as the BPP. The new warfare has been launched under the legality of the coalition constitution, which has caused what look likes an impending procreated battle.

The BNF and BCP leadership announced during their party conferences held during the presidential holidays that a new constitution, signed by only Boko and Saleshando was submitted to the Registrar of Societies. This has however been contested by the other contracting partners, BMD and BPP. Part of the objection by the duo is that the constitution submitted by Boko and Saleshando is not what has been agreed during the Negotiation Stream and Upper Negotiation Stream. There has also been a dispute on whether the talks were taking place between BCP and the UDC or it was between BCP and other three coalition partners.

BOKO/SALESHANDO CONSTITUTION

The constitution submitted by Boko and Saleshando is an amended version of what was agreed by the negotiation streams including the upper stream. The amendments came about following the contested UDC February 2018 congress held at Boipuso.
The amendments made to the initial constitution delivered by the negotiation team include; creating one Vice President position, as well as restoring the powers of sitting president as provided for by the republic’s constitution when UDC is in power.

Other provisions, in the constitution submitted by Boko include giving the UDC president power to make unilateral decisions such as expelling a member of the UDC from the coalition as well as the power to repossesses constituencies from contracting parties for re-distribution. This submission of the constitution, which observers said it will deal decisively with Pilane, was followed by the resolutions of the two parties to reclaim constituencies allocated to BMD, a contracting partner expect the one held 

BMD/BPP CONSTITUTION

The constitution submitted by BMD and BPP to the register of societies is the one delivered by the negotiation streams, but without the input of the disputed congress. The constitution recognizes that the four contracting partners are equal members and sets out how the coalition will behave when in power with regards to the exercise of the executive. The constitution is clear that once UDC wins power, the country should immediately go through constitutional review that will see what the party envisages become part of the national constitution.

These powers in essence include, a president with curtailed powers. The power will be vested in what is called President’s Executive Council to comprise all the president of coalition partners. Article 11 .5  indicate: ‘The executive authority of the Republic of Botswana shall, when the UDC is in power, vest in the President’s Executive Council, which authority shall be exercised jointly.

This power will include the power to appoint cabinet, head of public service, permanent secretaries, ambassadors, Speaker of the National Assembly, the Chief Justice and other senior members in the public services. The constitution also express clearly that president of the UDC, shall be the State president, while Fist Vice President, one occupied currently by Pilane would be Deputy President, while the Secretary General of the UDC would Second Vice Presidents of Botswana. The BPP, which occupies the chairperson position, is guaranteed the most senior position in cabinet. The power to appoint cabinet minister is also taken away from the presidency and given to the executive council.

WHAT PILANE FEARS

If Boko and Saleshando’s submitted constitution see the green light, Pilane would lose his power within the UDC and in the future government of the coalition wins power. What currently obtains is that BCP and BNF are looking at giving Pilane and his BMD a non-deal by reclaiming all his constituencies except two where it is incumbent. This will strip Pilane off bargaining power within the party and leaving his influence in the affairs of the UDC insignificant. 

Secondly, a proposed one VP constitution will compel the contracting partners to convene a congress where either Pilane or Saleshando will be given the post. As things stand, Saleshando undisputed favourite to take the crown, which would essentially leave Pilane in the lurch. 

Pilane also does not want constitution proposed by his two colleagues because it will effectively give power to the UDC Congress as opposed to UDC NEC as Pilane hoped for in his constitution. In Pilane’s view, congress is not necessary because UDC is just an electoral arrangement and the true power should lies with the NEC. Pilane currently has the support of BPP NEC as well as Boko, who has been protecting him for some time now. Boko has made it clear that he is not in favour of anything that would break the UDC.

DUMELANG SALESHANDO PERSPECTIVE

I have hitherto refused to comment on the controversy that has been sparked by the submission of the UDC constitution to the Registrar of Societies. It is possible that some may interpret my silence to be a tacit admission of guilt to all the claims by the leaders of BPP and BMD on why the constitution should not have been submitted for registration. I still do not see the need to respond comprehensively at this stage and allow the leader of the UDC as the chief spokesperson space to address the issues raised by our colleagues.

For the benefit of BCP members and supporters, to whom I remain accountable, I just want to make the following 3 points clear;

1. The BCP in 2016 entered into negotiations with the UDC. The UDC (BPP, BNF and BMD) decided that they will not negotiate as separate entities but as a single unit under the leadership of Comrade Duma Boko. The stream that negotiated the constitution had six BCP representatives while the UDC also had six. Claims that each of the four parties had two representatives are false, there were two parties to the negotiations each represented by 6 people.

2. It was agreed that the final decision makers on all issues shall be the presidents of the UDC and the BCP. This point has been made by none other than Boko in the numerous meetings we addressed nationwide last year and never refuted by any member of the UDC until this month. When we signed the agreement on by-elections between the UDC and BCP, it was only signed by myself for the BCP and Boko for the UDC. It was for the same reason that the 2 of us signed off the constitution for submission to the Registrar of Societies.

3. Both UDC and BCP agreed to subject the constitution to congress scrutiny and approval by our members. Both sides knew that some of their proposals may be rejected by congress. The two presidency model for the UDC was a brainchild of the BCP leadership but this proposal was shot down by congress. That is how democracy works, the voice of the membership has to be respected.

It is has been difficult for me to understand why people who left the BDP because of a leader who did not respect congress decisions want to propose that a committee of 16 people (UDC NEC) should have powers over congress. Strange, very strange…
The position of the 2018 BCP congress is that the UDC should be fixed as it is clearly broken, broken by all of us who are its members. If it cannot be fixed, it must be reconfigured urgently as we are running out of time. Not fixing it will amount to PLAYING FIDDLE WHILE ROME BURNS

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No deal was made with Disney World – Tsogwane

16th April 2021
disney-carlifonia-park

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has been touring the entire world since occupying Presidential office in 2018. Few months down the line, he flew to Florida in the United States of America where he landed at the Disney World.

This is the world’s largest entertainment complex opened in 1971, with four theme parks (consisting of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom).

Upon his return in the country from the fairytale land, Masisi said Botswana struck a partnership with Disney World. The partnership primarily focused on turning the country’s capital, Gaborone, into an international tourism and leisure destination.

“We have struck a partnership with Disney World as a company. They focus on making people happy and bringing tourists. I want tourists in this country. Visa restrictions are out. They will be issued on arrival. I have tasked Minister Makgato’s Ministry to categorize taxis so that there can be value in the taxi industry.

I am very committed to making Gaborone an international venue center and this will bring revenue to our country,” Masisi said at the time. Masisi, has now appointed Makgato as Botswana’s High Commissioner – designate to the Commonwealth of Australia.

However, two years later, there is no sign of Gaborone being turned into a tourism hub. In fact, the partnership Masisi struck with Disney World never emerged. It is now becoming more of a pipeline dream, and politicians are keen to know what really transpired.

In a dramatic turn of events, Masisi’s flanking Minister, Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng, slammed Vice President Slumber Tsogwane with questions on this said ghost partnership, demanding answers on Masisi’s long dead promise.

Vice President Tsogwane told Parliament on Thursday that Masisi was looking for investors to come and do business in Botswana, either in partnership with government or the private sector.

“The President and his delegation engaged in meetings with the management of Disney World to identify opportunities for the company to collaborate with in Botswana. There were a number of opportunities Mr. Speaker for collaboration that were identified to be followed up with by bilateral negotiations with various institutions.

The key area that was identified for collaboration was the implementation of an enhanced customer care training and development akin to that of Disney World.

The Botswana Public Service College was assigned to collaborate with Disney World, to roll out a training programme which will achieve excellent customer service for the public sector in Botswana, Tsogwane said via virtual Parliament.

He further said representatives of Disney World visited Botswana on a fact finding mission in May 2019.

“While in Botswana, the team toured selected sites such as Gaborone bus rank, Tlokweng Boarder post, and Department of Roads, Training and Safety offices amongst others. Following this, Disney World produced a scoping report which detailed training and engagement timelines for consideration by government,” said Tsogwane.

In fulfilment of their procurement requirement, Tsogwane said Disney Institute was requested to submit a proposal based on their scoping report indicating associated cost implications. He said, Disney declined to submit citing that it does not deal directly with government.

“After being advised by their Disney World Board, they therefore advised Botswana government to deal with another company in the United States of America, which according to them does the Disney World way. This never proceeded because our interest was on Disney World and not any other company that point in time.”

As a result, Tsogwane told Parliament that no deal or contract was signed with Disney World. “The issue of easing of restrictions which is part of the question, between any two countries is a matter that is negotiated through diplomatic channels and whenever agreements are reached, proper communication is made. With regard to Visa restrictions between Botswana and the US, Tsogwane says they will continue discussions on how to ease restrictions,” he said on Thursday.

Morwaeng wanted Tsogwane to update Parliament on: Government’s deal with Disney World, the terms of the deal propounded by the President in March 2019; Whether the deal was signed, when it was signed and clear specifics of the deal and its benefits to Botswana tourism; when visa restrictions between the two countries (Botswana and the United States of America) will be eased and visas issued on arrival as per the Disney World deal pronouncement; and If the deal struck with Disney World was not just mere electioneering talk that will never see the light of the day.

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Gov’t has no budget for Magosi’s SADC chase

12th April 2021
Elias Magosi

Despite the government of Botswana’s ambition to have one of its own to lead Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) since its establishment in 1980, the Presidency says there is no budget specifically dedicated to the campaign.

The Government has released the name of Permanent Secretary to the President, Elias Mpedi Magosi, as the candidate for the SADC Executive Secretary position. Magosi is expected to face off with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) candidate, Faustin Mukela. The position will become vacant in August this year.

However, despite the optimism the Botswana Government has not yet set aside a budget to assist Magosi to win against the seemingly DRC giant. “We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country’s ability to effectively fund any new project. This campaign is not an exception. As such, we do not have any budget for the campaign. However, we have so far managed to take advantage of His Excellency the President’s working visits to the neighbouring countries to also carry out the campaigns,” Press Secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang, explained.

Botswana has housed SADC since the establishment of the then SADCC in 1980, but has never occupied top most leadership positions at the SADC Secretariat.  “We therefore, strongly believe that we should also have an opportunity to contribute to the management of our regional body as it continues to drive the important issues of regional integration industrialization and socio-economic development.

This will also profile Botswana as a strong advocate of regional integration,” he responded to this publication’s questionnaire as to why the Government wants to occupy the plum post. SADC is a Member State driven organization. As such, Leagajang said, needs a well-grounded Executive Secretary with a blend of management and leadership acumen; a transformational leader with political awareness and integrity; private and public sector experience; a deep culture of corporate governance; as well as strategic agility and result-oriented consummate diplomat.

“These are the unique attributes of our candidate,” he said. So far President Mokgweetsi Masisi has visited nine out of 16 SADC member states on a working visit and also taking an opportunity to present to them his candidate.

“The countries have appreciated this effort and we remain hopeful. However, it is important to note that this is a democratic and competitive process which must be respected,” he responded when asked about the reception and assurances from various countries to cast a vote for Magosi.

In 2018, when Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi challenged for the Africa Union (AU) Chairperson, the government appointed former President Festus Mogae to be the campaign leader. Does the Government have anyone apart from Masisi to help with the campaign?

“The campaigns for the candidate are strictly led by the Government of Botswana. Since this is a candidate for Botswana, not just the Government, it will be appreciated if all Batswana, including the media, could also shoulder the responsibility to campaign for the candidate in their own spheres of influence,” Leagajang responded.

While there are sceptics on Magosi winning against the DRC man, the Government is confident and believes that with the unique traits that he possess, Magosi stands a chance. He is said to be a strong advocate of justice and fairness as he has played this role in his current role as PSP and in his previous roles as PS and in the private sector. He has helped individuals and companies to find justice and fairness in most of their dealings with Government.

Magosi is also said to be a proponent of corporate governance and which he has relentlessly pursued in most of his career including in Government and other sectors. A strong believer in following laid down procedures and laws. “He carries a variety of skills as an HR expert with experience in different sectors, a strategist and an Organization development specialist.

His experience and exposure spans government, parastatal, private sector and at regional level as well, thus making him a suitable candidate for the regional role. He has worked with governments, businesses, development partners and politicians and is comfortable navigating through all of them,” Leagajang concluded.

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Mzwinila’s P4.3 Billion gamble to keep water flowing

12th April 2021
orth-South-Carrier

The Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila looked a politician set to shoot the moon as he laid bare his billions of pula development agenda recently in Parliament.

His Ministry’s combined Recurrent and Development Budget Proposals for the 2021/ 2022 Financial Year is pegged at Four Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty – Five Million, two Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P4, 365, 219, 560). This is a budget 38.3% more than the allocation for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.

Mzwinila preluded his request to parliament with a demonstration that his Ministry has no champagne taste on a beer budget – indicating that his ministry’s expenditure at the end of February 2021P2.111 Billion or 96% of development budget; and P910 million or 90% of the recurrent budget.

Notwithstanding the budget dust, the Minister justified this year’s increase in the Ministry’s total budget. He attributed the escalation to the commencement of major projects under the water sector. These include the implementation of the North South Carrier (NSC) 22.2 covering various sub projects. Mzwinila noted that these are all public value projects which are aimed at improving the lives of Batswana.

Mzwinila’s Ministry has projected that the sum of Nine Hundred and Sixty –Three Million, Nine Hundred and Forty – Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Pula (P963, 947, 560) be permitted for the Recurrent Budget and stand part of the 2021 / 2022 Appropriation Bill ( No. 1 of 2021).

“55% of the Recurrent Budget is geared towards the Revenue Support Grant for 12 Land Boards and their subordinate authorities while the sum of P5 Million is allocated to the Real Estate Advisory Council (REAC). The remaining 44% is proposed for the Ministry Departments.”

The sum of Three Billion, Four Hundred and One Million, Two hundred and Seventy –Two Thousand Pula (P3, 401, 272, 000), for the Development Budget was approved and stand part of the same schedule of the appropriation (2021/2022).

When breaking down the Development Budget, Minister Mzwinila noted that Water Supply and Sanitation projects will account for P1.098 Billion to finance the Maun Water and Sanitation project, Molepolole Sanitation projects and the Shakawe Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation.

With all the implementation bottlenecks troubling several projects in the country, Mzwinila had to satisfy the question of whether his Ministry demonstrated a dire need for the budget with reference to its execution of the budget for the financial year 2020/2021 and its delivery of strategic initiatives and projects?

Mzwinila’s pitch found favour with parliament and his ministry will get an aggregate budget of P3.198 Billion for the 2020/ 2021 Financial Year. Within this allocation, P2.188 Billion is for the Development Budget and P1.010 Billion will cover the Recurrent Budget.

The Minister revealed his strategic interventions for land management, water and sanitation services. Highlighting that efforts by Government to provide serviced residential land to citizens on the waiting list are being hampered by limited resources. He shared that his ministry needs P94 Billion to cover such costs which will directly link to water, sewage, roads, electricity, telecommunications and storm water drainage leading to the allocation of 4 587 plots on un-serviced land.

The minister projected that 22 952 un-serviced residential plots are planned to be allocated in the next financial year. However, there is a trend where allocated land remains fallow and undeveloped which raises misgivings that the requests could have been made on speculative plans.

Mzwinila noted that in the spirit of forging stronger International connections, the Ministry will in June 2021 sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Land matters between Namibia and Botswana with the aim of opening doors to the creation of Dry Ports in the country, facilitate international trade through Walvis Bay Sea Port.

Botswana is already challenged by scarcity of naturally occurring water resources due to the aridity of the country creating persistent water shortages. The type of infrastructure required to improve national water security is a true reflection of intensive investment needed in the water sector The Minister stressed.

“An emerging issue such as the COVID -19 pandemic poses serious challenges as the control of the virus requires reliable water supply. In an effort to mitigate the challenge, the Ministry has undertaken extensive bowsing throughout the country which included the provision of additional capacity for supplementary bowsing to areas with pervasive water shortages, plus an additional forty one (41) un-gazetted settlements.

Operational costs due to bowsing were at an average of P6 Million per month before the COVID-19 pandemic and increased to an unsustainable amount of the order of P13 Million per month, since the beginning of the State of Emergency in April 2020,” the minister shared.

Through the support of a World Bank Loan, the Ministry is implementing several initiatives under the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency (BEWSE) project. Through BEWSE the Raw Water Pricing and Abstraction Strategy will assess the pricing of water in a manner that enables the provision of water to support new economic development, the strategy is planned to be completed in June 2021.

The Ministry has commenced the development of a long term National Water Security Strategy to improve resilience to climate change impacts. The strategy development entails prioritization of the proposed future mega water transfers such as the Chobe – Zambezi water transfer, the Atlantic Ocean water transfer to Botswana through Namibia and Lesotho – Botswana water transfer.

Following the signing of the tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa in November 2017 for the Lesotho –Botswana Water Transfer project, a 24 months contract for a combined prefeasibility and feasibility study for the development of a bankable Lesotho – Botswana Water Transfer project feasibility study was signed and is to be completed in 2022.

One of the Ministry’s famous major water supply projects such as the North South Carrier (NSC) 2.2 has experienced hiccups; having tenders for contract 1 (Masama to Mmamashia Pipeline) and Contract 2 (Mahalapye to Masama Pipeline) cancelled due to budgetary constraints.

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